136 WILLIAM S. COMANOR AND PATRICK REY The policy implications of this second scenario are very different. First, these restraints may well have anti-competitive effects so there is a role for an active competition policy. Second, the restraints may limit the growth of rival distributors, as suggested above, or that of new manufacturers when the latter ﬁnd it more dif- ﬁcult to gain effective distribution of their products. As a result, vertical restraints become a more important problem for competition policy. We are particularly interested here in circumstances where large distributors have bargaining power over their current suppliers. To be sure, other economists have observed the importance of such markets. For example, Michael Porter noted that a retailer’s position relative to supplying manufacturers results from its inﬂu- ence over consumers’ buying decisions, which is often very substantial. Similarly, Richard Heﬂebower wrote that where manufacturers supply branded products but “consumers have no strong preferences for one brand over several others ...the manufacturer ...is a beggar at the retailer’s ofﬁce”. In various articles, Robert Steiner also emphasized that large retailers frequently dominate their suppliers so that market power lies at the distribution rather than the manufacturing stage of production. This result
Review of Industrial Organization – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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